North Dakota farmer makes skin care products with natural ingredients

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ROLETTE, N.D. – Sometimes when Apryl Lunde is creating skin care products, they don't turn out quite how she expected. But she can usually tweak them enough to make them work.

Lunde, who lives with her husband, Curt Lunde, and their two children on a farm near here, makes skin care products with natural ingredients, most of which she gets from her farm. She calls her business Feral Farm, because the farm where they now live had been vacant for years.

Lunde is known for her goats' milk soap, said Katie Crofutt of Rolette, one of Lunde's customers.

Crofutt became interested in Lunde's skin care products after buying vegetables from her at a farmers market, she said.

"I bought some lip balm and body butter and I was hooked after that," she said. "I won't use anything else."

Crofutt said she has really sensitive skin, and Feral Farm products don't dry her skin or leave it feeling greasy. She also likes that the products are natural, she said.

"I try to use all-natural, locally grown products as much as possible," she said.

Using all natural ingredients is an important part of her business, Lunde said.

"You can't be too careful about what you're putting in your body or on your body," she said. "That's how we live our lifestyle and it translated to the business really well."

Neither Lunde nor her husband grew up on a farm, but they were drawn to an agricultural lifestyle. The farm had been in her husband's family for several generations, but no one had lived there for around 30 years when the Lundes decided to move in.

"We love this lifestyle," Lunde said. "And we're so thankful to be able to raise our kids this way."

They grow most of their own food and use a high tunnel greenhouse to extend the growing season. They also raise rabbits, chickens, pigs and goats for food.

"It's considered a homestead in the traditional sense," she said.

Lunde started making skin care products because she and her husband were starting a family and she wanted to create a flexible home-based business around the farm so she could stay home with her kids, she said.

She had dairy goats that produced milk for their own consumption and she learned to make soap by reading books, doing online research, watching YouTube videos and a lot of trial and error, she said.

She hand-makes things like natural goat milk soap, lip balms and skin balms. She also grows a facial luffa that's a type of tropical gourd.

"When you get it wet, it softens to feel almost like a wash cloth," she said. "It exfoliates your skin, but not so much that it's too rough to use every day. It's basically buffing dead skin cells away."

She scents her products with essential oils. She also uses a lot of herbs and vegetables she grows in her garden as colorants.

"Using natural colorants there are a lot of variables," she said. "I learned to keep really good notes."

Sometimes too much of an ingredient leads to an "awful shade of brown." But she can usually add something to change the color or add a different scent than she'd planned to make the color work.

"Some of my really good sellers have been complete accidents," she said. "Nothing is a complete loss."

Lunde, who is a Pride of Dakota member, sells her products at craft shows and through her website, www.feralfarm.co. She also does custom orders and said she has a lot of requests for lip balms in specific flavors with custom labels for weddings or baby showers or guest-sized soaps for weddings.

Beth Reitan of Bottineau, N.D., said she has used all of the Feral Farm products. She stumbled upon them at a craft show and said she was immediately interested.

"I love them," she said. "I like knowing who makes them, where she makes them, and what they are made of. And they really do work better than anything else I've tried."